Good news: Obama has stated that he wants an 80% reduction in greenhouse gases by 2050, matching the United Kingdom goal and surpassing Europe.
It appears likely, from examining Obama's public statements, that he is not fully aware of the dire straits that the planet finds itself in due to impending changes in the availability of such resources as oil, water, and farmable soil. Depending on how quickly these challenges make themselves felt in countries that "matter", meaning we exclude most of Asia and all of Africa, some radical policies will need to be implemented, policies that will have consequences for we for-the-most-part comfortable American citizens.
It is also possible that the new president and his administration will look more closely at all the science and become alarmed enough to want to take strong action before it is forced on us through personal fear of an American round of starvation such as frequently sweeps parts of Africa.
It appears that Obama is on the right track in another sense, namely, the goal of capitalizing on the need to be green by supporting a new green jobs policy. How this will be implemented is not clear, but creating 5 million new jobs in green industries is one of the most admirable and effective plans out there right now, since it connects economic benefit with environmental benefit.
In fact, in the REAL economy, that is exactly the linkage that corresponds to healthy government policy. Why? Because, as we have previously discussed, standard economics does not put a value on benefits in land fertility, reduction of solid and liquid waste, shortening of transport lines, and so on. Standard economics also fails to place a cost on most aspects of pollution cleanup, land depletion, and toxic product (plastic, electronics, even paper) creation.
In the new economics that we can hope will slowly gain supremacy, the attempt is made to determine the total effect of each action we take, each product manufactured, each governmental policy. For that reason, the goal of generating all our energy needs, ultimately, from renewable and non-polluting sources (the usual wind, sun, waves, geothermal and so on), that goal has tremendous implications for the quality of life for every inhabitant of the planet.
Some benefits we should look toward include:
- more local, non-corporate control of energy sources
- less pollution while generating energy
- lower cost for energy, once all the infrastructure is in place
We can now hope that the new president of our country will look closely at the environment and take action with all due speed. He is off to a reasonably good start, but is not quite there, yet.